In the report from a conference in UK, my collegue Peter noticed a passage where Jim Haslem reportedly said:
“I actually read the eGIF the other day – nice reading on a quiet evening after a couple of beers. The problem is that I didn’t really know what I was looking at – it was not a lot of use to me, it seemed to be trying to be all things to all people.” The government needs to work to make the eGIF more usable, he said, and the standards body could help with that.”
Jim is chair of the new UK Local e-Government Standards Body.
The Local e-Government Standards Body will:
- research and maintain an information repository of e-Government schemes
- assess how these schemes impact on, and contribute to, local e-Government standards
- compile a standards catalogue by mapping existing standards and identifying gaps to be filled
- ensure that effective action is taken to ensure ï¿½standards gapsï¿½ are filled
- identify and publicise local e-government projects and best practice
- deliver practical support and high quality advice to Councils, their partners and suppliers on the interpretation and adoption of local e-government standards
- establish processes for agreeing and accrediting local e-government standards and projects that complement the national standards framework.
Local government in Denmark does not have anything like this body. It would be good if they had, I think.
Speaking of eGIF, our Danish Reference Profile will be released really soon now. I’ll take Jim’s point about the usability of an eGIF, and have thought about a few things that could be done. I think we might be able to work together across our national boundaries, and perhaps together make our eGIFs more usable. We could:
- Make joint reference implementations, best practice descriptions, guidelines, etc.
- Offer transnational services for communities of practice and knowledge sharing in general
- Together approach industry vendors and standards organsations in shared issues, e.g., document standards.
- Work together on streamlining our national eGIFs. Collaboration also regarding emerging technologies.
- Coordinate work done in international organisations, such as in the EU, as well as in our various networks, on my part especially in ICA and GOL-IN.
To me, it is important to set the right expectations to an eGIF. That is not just because I as the project manager for the Danish eGIF is “measured” on how well my deliverables meet the expectations, but also because an eGIF is not “all things to all people”, and should not be seen as such. First, it doesn’t even try to say “all things” – only a few important things, such as “use this and that standard” or “it’s time to move on from that standard”. Second, an eGIF does not have “all people” as a target group. It is true that the eGIF – a framework – is “universal” in the sense that it covers in principle all government IT solutions, big and small. But “all peole” should not be taken literaly – an eGIF is aimed at specialists, like those who write requirement specifications and those who build systems. But I know, and I think that Jim knows that too, that the eGIF is and will always be too general to be more than a checklist which could and shoudl guide the decision making process, for example by having the vendor spefify any deviations from the eGIF. An example could be an accessibility declaration: By specifying whether a solution is following WAI guidelines and produces valid (X)HTML etc., much is said.
Then it becomes much easier to do the “stay-or-sway”-dance companies like Gartner Group talk about, and perhaps even to do so at a strategic level.